InterMat Rewind: David Gillaspie

Mark Palmer

8/20/2010
Mark Palmer, InterMat Senior Writer
mark@intermatwrestle.com, Twitter: @MatWriter

Wrestling and writing are a winning combination. A number of great authors once wrestled, including novelists Terry Davis (Vision Quest), Ken Kesey (One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest), and John Irving (The World According to Garp).

Former wrestler David Gillaspie has found a way to bring together writing and wrestling -- and express himself creatively -- with his blog "DeeGee's B&B" and with his eBook, Wrestle With Care: Inspirationals from Life with Sport.

Gillaspie's grappling groundwork

The acts of wrestling and writing have long been tied into Gillaspie's life. He won a Greco-Roman title in high school in his native Oregon. He then went to the University of Southern Oregon, where he continued his wrestling career for one year, leaving the mat to concentrate on his studies.

David Gillaspie
Next, Gillaspie had a stint in the U.S. Army. "I tried out for the Army team, saw what a buzzsaw that was, and decided to focus on racing (marathons)," said the Oregon native.

"Talking to other wrestling guys, you realize you'll never be in that type of shape of again -- wrestling shape," said Gillaspie. "So you test yourself in other ways. For me, it's marathons."

Despite no longer competing in wrestling, Gillaspie continues to see the value of the sport. "I wanted my sons to experience wrestling. I'd talk up wrestling in front of them, introduced them to youth wrestling ... Once they got to high school, I encouraged them to go out for wrestling."

"My sons have learned tenacity from the sport. They now are in intramural basketball in college, but they go all-out."

"I don't worry about my sons. I know they will avoid trouble because of what they've learned from wrestling."

Wrestler's discipline in writing

David Gillaspie continues to use what he learned in wrestling in his life beyond the mat, especially as a writer.

"In wrestling, you find your stance, and you build everything upon that," said Gillaspie. "You use that same foundational approach in real life."

"My wrestling background guides me to write with structure, to be clear, to get to the point."

It's one thing for Gillaspie to say this. But an independent organization -- International Blogging Recognition Council (IBRC) -- designated "DeeGee's B&B" a "Recognized Blog" which is reserved for "those blogs that effectively connects with the audience and promotes the sharing of ideas and experiences."

Gillaspie estimates he's written 120,000 words in his "DeeGee's B&B" blog, which, according to the header, is "where writers, wrestlers, caregivers, and historians walk, talk, and squawk."

As makes clear in his biography at his blog, David Gillespie's writing focus isn't limited to wrestling. In August, he shared his adventures of traveling with his family (including his mother-in-law) to Spain, writing about everything from an olive oil-tasting tour, to dealing with his wife being hospitalized with pneumonia far, far from home. However, even in dealing with that health emergency, Gillaspie called upon his mat background to stay cool in a crisis, and get his wife the help she needed, not knowing Spanish, or understanding the health care system in Granada.

Whether he's writing about Spain, Dan Gable or any other topic for his blog, Gillaspie does it with a wrestler's discipline. As he put it in this interview for InterMat, "I write in a standard newspaper column format -- 700-800 words ... I write in the standard "set-up, conflict, resolution" pattern, hopefully not in a formulaic way."

Wrestle With Care

From these blog entries/essays sprang Gillespie's book Wrestle With Care: Inspirationals from Life with Sport, available online as an eBook from Amazon.com. Here's how he described this venture online:

Civilized people predict the end of wrestling. A dying sport. Others scoff at the notion of an ebook. It's a novelty. Naturally I've combined both, an ebook of wrestling stories both informational and informative.
An essay tells you something. A story makes you feel something. I've linked my best essays. Thirty three thousand reads later I've written the story.


Wrestle With Care, a free Kinkle reader for PC download on Amazon, tells the story of a former wrestler who goes to the hospital bedside of his wrestling coach, turning the tables, scoring a reversal as wrestler becomes coach and mentor to the man who performed those functions for him at an earlier stage of life.

Gillespie has lived all this. What's more, he incorporated his experience as caregiver for his father-in-law who battled Parkinson's disease.

"In caregiving, as in wrestling, you anticipate when the other person is about to shift balance," said Gillespie. "In wrestling, you go on the attack. In caregiving, you go in to prevent a fall."


Wrestling and writing inspiration

Gillaspie's writing background goes beyond his blog and Wrestle With Care eBook. "I've taken a ton of writing courses -- novel writing, screenplay writing, news writing. I've participated in writing workshops at the University of Iowa, and the USC (University of Southern California) screenwriter workshops."

David Gillespie in 1973
In terms of writing and wrestling, Gillaspie described Ken Kesey as his inspiration. "I thought it was cool that he was from my area, writing about where I grew up, with great books such as Sometimes a Great Notion and One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest."

Gillespie and Kesey shared more than an upbringing in the same part of the world -- and a love for writing. They both shared a love of the oldest sport. Kesey wrestled at Springfield High School in Oregon, and at the University of Oregon.

"To my mind, he invented the 60s," Gillaspie said of Kesey, who, in addition to being a noted novelist, was a counter-culture figure who became part of the Merry Pranksters that traveled the nation in a school bus with friends (including Beat writers like Neal Cassady and Jack Kerouac), and chronicled in Tom Wolfe's book, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. Despite his association with these Beat icons -- and his status as one of the great writers of the 1960s -- Kesey said in a 1999 interview, "I was too young to be a beatnik, and too old to be a hippie."

David Gillaspie also cites Dan Gable as a source of inspiration. The name of the Iowa State wrestler and University of Iowa head coach pop up frequently in his DeeGee's B&B blog; for example, in the opening of the August 13, 2010 installment:

One name represents wrestling in America. Dan Gable. The DG. He marked the sport like no other competitor or coach marked any other sport.

Gable's name also was mentioned more than once during the interview for this profile. In talking about the Cyclone mat great's one college loss -- to Larry Owings of the University of Washington in the 142-pound finals at the 1970 NCAA championships -- Gillaspie said, "With Gable, that one loss helped him be the coach that he was -- so he could help others prevent what happened to him."

For additional inspired insights into wrestling -- and all aspects of life -- check out David Gillaspie's DeeGee's B&B blog ... and his eBook, Wrestling With Care. It's wrestling writing that's richly rewarding to read.

To learn more about Wrestling With Care -- and to get a free copy of this eBook -- visit http://www.amazon.com/dp/B003B667V6

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